In fifteen years of scribbling about our favourite music we must have seen thousands of acts come and go, so for band such as Mudhoney to not just keep going for double that length of time (albeit with a few line-up changes along the way) but to still be releasing music as vital and relevant as this year’s Digital Garbage LP is truly astonishing. Tonight, back in the UK for the first time since 2015, Mudhoney play to a packed out Electric Ballroom, and that there are plenty of fresher faces amongst my fellow gnarled veterans is testament to both the band’s legacy and the quality of the new material.
Opening act, Medway beat legends The Masonics, can boast a pretty impressive back catalogue themselves. Formed by members of The Milkshakes and The Pop Rivets at the start of the 90s, they twang out a surfy garage rock stomp that reaches greater heights still when joined by guest vocalist Miss Ludella Black (who recently appeared on The Joyzine Advent Calendar).
Reformed Buckingham four-piece Thee Hypnotics go back even further, having formed in 1985. They split in 1999 with singer Jim Jones going on to form Black Moses and The Jim Jones Revue, but are back and sounding as forceful as ever, crafting deep garage-laced psych-rock grooves that are just as mesmeric as their name would suggest as Jones glowers from centre stage and guitarist Ray Hanson pulls of outrageous rock poses.
Mudhoney walk onstage, pick up their instruments and launch straight into a set of full-on fuzzed-up ferocity that doesn’t relent for well over an hour. Talk is kept to a minimum as the band let the music speak for itself, and with classics such as ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’, ‘This Gift’ and ‘Suck You Dry’, along with neo-con baiting newbie ‘Paranoid Core’ and social media satire ‘Kill Yourself Live’ igniting the moshpit with every distorted power chord and lip-curled snarl, there’s no need for any ornamentation.
The old favourites are just as adrenalin-pumping as ever, Mark Arm summoning thirty years worth of rage, while Steve Turner’s guitar growls and shrieks as it always did over Dan Peters and Guy Maddison’s driving rhythm section. However we’re not just here for the hits and it’s great to see tracks from Digital Garbage and its predecessor, 2013’s Vanishing Point, being greeted with the same boisterous enthusiasm as those from seminal debut EP Superfuzz Bigmuff.
Things kick up a further notch as Arm discards his guitar and prowls the stage with an intensity of purpose that would make Iggy Pop jealous, and when the band return for a lengthy encore, which includes personal favourite ‘Who You Driving Now?’, the evening is complete. Here’s to another 30 – based on the energy and ferocity of tonight’s performance, you wouldn’t put it past them.
Review and photography by Paul Maps